History takes on a festival spirit during the holidays in one of the nation’s most historic cities, Richmond, Va.
Regardless of the season, there’s always great places to eat and drink.
A Frommer’s Top Destination for 2014, the travel guide says the city is coming into its own as a choice regional destination with a growing slate of breweries, farm-to-table restaurants and other attractions. Details: 888-742-4666 or visitrichmondva.com
Dominion GardenFest of Lights
Billing itself as the region’s ultimate holiday experience, the Dominion GardenFest of Lights at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is open from Nov. 28 through Jan. 12. It offers more than a half-million twinkling lights, hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners, a firepit with s’mores and hot chocolate and nightly family activities. The gardens are on property that was Powhatan Indian hunting ground and was once owned by Patrick Henry. Details: 804-262-9887 or lewisginter.org
This free, public exhibition of light-based art and performances will be Nov. 21 in Monroe Park, considered one of Richmond’s most historically significant public spaces. Named after President James Monroe, it rests in the heart of Richmond and the Virginia Commonwealth University campus.
InLight Richmond opens with the Community Lantern Parade and features performances, sculpture, large-format projections and interactive projects illuminating pathways, walls, green spaces, trees and building facades in and around the park. Details: 804-643-1708 or 1708gallery.org
RVA on Ice
A skating rink nestled in the heart of downtown offers special events throughout the season. Free arts-and-crafts sessions are planned for Saturdays. Details: 804-592-3400 or rvaonice.net
Court End Christmas
Ten historic sites in downtown Richmond open their doors for a day of free admission and holiday festivities Dec. 14. Participating locations include the Virginia State Capitol (designed by Thomas Jefferson), the Virginia Executive Mansion, St. John Church (where Patrick Henry vowed, “Give me liberty, or give me death”), the Museum and White House of the Confederacy, the John Marshall House and the Valentine-Wickham House.
Court End is a neighborhood that sits to the north of the Capitol Square and East Broad Street. Details: 804-649-0711, ext. 301, or thevalentine.org
The city’s Fan District, named for the avenues that “fan out” to create space for small triangle parks, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s one of the largest and least-altered historic townhouse districts in the South. It also has one of the largest concentrations of Victorian-period townhouses in the country, extending 85 blocks west of Richmond’s downtown commercial area. The Fan District Association’s 52nd annual Holiday House Tour will be Dec. 13 and 14. Details: fantourrichmond.com
The National Register of Historic Places recognizes Maymont as a significant example of an American estate of the Gilded Age. The 100-acre Victorian country landmark is a historic house museum with public park, arboretum, formal gardens, a carriage collection, a nature center and children’s farm. The Romanesque-style mansion was completed in 1893.
Victorian Holidays tours, designed to bring the spirit of Christmas of the era alive, will run from Nov. 21 through Jan 4. An Old-Fashioned Christmas will be celebrated Dec. 7 in the mansion and on the carriage-house lawn. St. Nick’s Party is set for the same day in the Garden Hall.
Elegantly costumed ladies and gentlemen will welcome visitors for “Maymont by Moonlight” evening tours Dec 12 and 19. Details: 804-358-7166 or maymont.org
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
This museum’s permanent collection boasts more than 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of world history. “Forbidden City: Imperial Treasures From the Palace Museum, Beijing” runs through Jan. 11. Other featured works include large portraits, costumes, furniture, court paintings, religious sculptures and fine decorative arts. Details: 804-340-1400 or vmfa.museum
CarMax Tacky Light Run
Get your inner Griswold on Dec. 13 in this 6K run or walk through some of Richmond’s proudly tacky lights. There’s entertainment on the course, a water and a cookie stop for individuals and teams and post-race party. Neighborhoods compete for titles like “overall tackiest,” “most likely to blow a fuse” and “best and loudest block party.” Details: 804-285-9495 or sportsbackers.org/events/tacky-light-run
Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.